Sunday, December 28, 2014

Before You Share That Article...

... think twice!

Should I share this article? 

This is a question that, unfortunately, does not get asked enough in the world of social media. It's easy to just click share without thinking about the wider consequences. In all of our online sharing we need to be discerning, especially on social media where an untrue or unhelpful article can spread quickly. I've written out some questions that I ask myself before sharing something in the hope that these ideas will be helpful to you as well.

The Clickbait

Does the title of this article contain the following phrases, or phrases that are similar: "Made my day, my jaw hit the floor, everyone was shocked, you won't believe what happened next, etc."?
If YES then ask yourself
Did this really make my day? Did my jaw literally hit the floor? Was everyone truly shocked? Am I still having a hard time believing what actually happened next?

If you must, do so with an apology, or see if you can find the source article or video. As a general rule, try not to direct traffic to clickbait sites. They often repost other people's work without crediting, or use dishonest and sensational titles to generate clicks. They should not be supported.

The Pseudoscience

Does this article link to every study that it mentions (especially if it uses the phrase 'studies have shown that __ causes cancer')?
If YES then take a moment to click through the links and make sure they're from a reputable source, even if you don't understand a word.


If you must, you're going to have to do the research yourself and post links along with the article. There's no way around it. You shouldn't trust claims made without proof, and you shouldn't pass them on to your friends either. When the subject matter is medical an article that makes false claims can quite literally be harmful to anyone who follows its incorrect advice.

The Sensational

Does this article sound almost too good or too horrible to be true?
If YES, then ask yourself
Does this article come from The Onion, or another parody news site? 

If NO be sure to ask:
Does this article have a corresponding page on

If you have already shared the article, don't post a retraction that says "this is false, but my point still stands." Just don't do that to yourself. Check before you post or own up afterwards. If you fail, admit it, but don't continue using a soapbox that just collapsed.

The Political

Does this political article unfairly attack the opposing side by referring to them with hateful or slang terms, by using angry and bitter speech, by spreading lies and disinformation, by making unfounded assumptions, by generalization, or by promoting slander and gossip? 
IF YES then it goes without saying. DO NOT SHARE THE ARTICLE. It does not matter how wrong you believe your political opponents to be. Always be the better man.

IF NO then ask yourself
What are my motives in posting this article? Am I sharing it with selfish motives, e.g. to attack another friend who has the opposite opinion, or because I feel a great deal of hurt and hatred toward people who hold the opposite opinion? Do I have friends who may get offended by this article, and am I sharing this expressly to offend them?

IF NO and you can honestly say that you are sharing this article because it expresses your opinion on a certain political subject well, then go ahead and post it. Remember that there are some things not worth ending a friendship over, and many political topics fit into this category. I'm not saying you should always be silent, just that you should always be gracious.

The Downer

Was I going to share this article with the following caption, or a similar caption: "What is this world coming to? What is happening to our country? This is why the world will end soon. What is wrong with people? I don't even want to live on this planet anymore."
If NO then you're all good. Just checking.

If YES then it's seriously time to get off of Facebook or Twitter. Get up out of your chair, go hug your closest loved one, get outside and go for a walk, eat some chocolate, take a deep breath. Acknowledge the fact that you have no control over the events of history. Make peace with it. God is in control. It's going to be all right. I promise.

So let's commit to being wise and discerning curators of information on social media. We've been given a lot of power and we must use it responsibly. Here's to less of these articles in the future, and more good articles and great discussions.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I'm Upgrading to a Canon Rebel t5i

This beautiful little camera has been mine since Saturday and I love it. I've taken it all around, shooting random video of inanimate objects, people's faces, cats. Mainly cats.

This is the first DSLR I've ever owned so it still feels a bit like alien technology. I've been making do with cast-off camcorders for so long that having a DSLR feels like an incredible luxury. My Rebel t5i came in a bundle with two lenses. It has a stabilization feature on the lens. It has adjustable focus. It has a touchscreen. Honestly, it almost feels like too much.

But the video I've been getting is the crispest, sharpest, and clearest of any camera I've ever had my hands on and it is so exciting. Even though I'm a complete stranger to things like iso and aperture. YouTube has been very helpful so far and will continue to be my personal film school over the coming weeks.

I never thought still photography was very interesting but I've been (attempting) to take some pictures and it's actually more fun than I imagined. I've been using it to experiment with composition (and take cat pictures, of course.)

Pictured: the only two cameras I've ever bought.
The above picture will give you an idea of how big of an upgrade the Canon Rebel is for me. Of course I've had a variety of camcorders, ranging from Sony to Everio to the Canon I borrowed from Daniel Wilson to film Rachel and Steven's wedding. But the Flip is the only one that I've actually been able to call mine, and I stopped using that as a primary camera a little less than a year ago. The Flip video camera line has been discontinued for about three years, in part thanks to the improvement of iPhone video quality.

Notice the lack of options on the Flip camera? The big red button is for recording (in case you missed the subtlety of that feature) and that's about the extent of the camera options. The Canon Rebel on the other hand is a bit overwhelming in comparison. But it's going to be a lot more fun.

The Flip camera and I have had a good run, but now we're parting ways. It's going away to a good home where it will be put to good use.

Never mind, I'll find someone like you.....
I can't wait to shoot a video with my DSLR. I'm hoping to do some music videos for some musician friends of mine at some point. Music videos and commercials are two things I've always wanted to try. Music videos have so much potential for storytelling. I've started a Favorite Music Videos playlist to get a feel for what I like and what I want to emulate. 

Beyond that I may try to do some more sketches or short films, and I'll probably end up with some event videos whether I like it or not. It would be interesting to shoot another wedding with my better equipment and increased experience.

Also I can now take better cat pictures than ever before so that's a bonus. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Achievement unlocked: model status.

Want to see video mode in action? I've put together a video of some of the shots I've been taking.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Contra Dancing is Awesome and This is Why

I don't only do event videography but this seems to be a lot of what I film and edit these days (huge thanks to Ruth for doing 99% of the filming.) This was a costume party/dance/fundraiser that I organized for the Oregon City-based Hope 360 pregnancy resource clinic.

The majority of the dancing was contra dancing, or folk dancing as some people call it. We also had some swing dancing but unfortunately didn't capture it on video.

While I was organizing the dance I watched a lot of contra dancing videos on YouTube in order to find some new songs to dance to. Because the videos I found were so helpful I decided to film this dance to help anyone else looking to organize a contra dance.

If you're new to contra dancing (or only think of it as a slow, boring, and awkward pastime enjoyed by people in the late 18th-century) this website is a decent introduction. Honestly, contra dance can be a slow, boring, and awkward pastime, but if you're looking for a dance where you don't have to know all the moves (or any moves) then this a great place to start. If you can count to eight, clap, skip, spin, and run, then you can contra dance. When its done with enthusiasm (and the right music!) contra dancing can be incredibly fun (and an intense workout.)

Using modern music helps a lot. I'm really excited about how a lot of newer pop songs incorporate EDM music into their choruses or throughout their songs. EDM is dance music, and if you get one with the right beat it makes for some really epic contra dancing (this is technically called something like "techno-contra.")

My biggest goal for organizing and promoting these dances is to make it fun and exciting for all the kids that come. Contra dancing was a big thing at my church when I was their age, but it kind of faded out after a while. I'm hoping to bring it back in a big way while changing a few things that I'd always thought could use improvement (this is the beauty of volunteering, guys.)  I've changed it for the group of kids that are growing up going to these dances, and I can't wait to see how they'll change it when they're old enough to take over. It's a great tradition, and at its heart, contra dancing is a simple but fun activity that has more form and substance than the freestyle dances that are typical today. And it is awesome.

Just like Ruth's "Matchmaker from Mulan" costume.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Rachel and Steven are Married (and I shot the wedding)

I'd never really thought about getting into wedding videography, because I didn't actually know wedding videos were a thing until earlier this year. Now I've just finished filming Rachel and Steven's wedding, which brings my wedding video count to a grand total of two. Here is Rachel and Steven's short wedding film.

Since I am new at this, it's all been a learning experience for me (and a good one.) In no particular order, here are some of my thoughts.
  • Event videography is an interesting challenge because you can't pause events and make them happen again. You have to be constantly on the alert, like a hunter or a barehanded fisher. This was very exhausting for me in my post-accident post-concussive state but it was also very thrilling in an adrenaline-fueled way. 
  • It's also a good exercise in learning how to tell a story by identifying the pieces of an event that make up scenes, or snippets of dialogues. Life is a series of significant moments with lots of boring stuff in between, and video storytelling is about catching those moments. Like being a fisherman, a fisher of moments.
  • I'm still not very good at being bold and getting in close with the camera when I need to. I feel very conspicuous and like I shouldn't be there. I tried to avoid this feeling by wearing something dark and neutral and trying to insinuate myself into the scene. This kind of thing will hopefully come with practice and experience, but I'm still working on trying to find that balance between getting a good shot of the moment without ruining the moment.
  • It's hard to find good royalty-free music on the internet. But not impossible.
  • I had three cameras running during the ceremony and I was the only one running them so it was a bit of a juggling act. I'm very grateful for my tripod and my monopod, without which I could not have made it happen. Of course I should have asked my intrepid friend Ruth for help but for some reason completely forgot. I'm still new at this.
  • Speaking of things I forgot, I've twice made the mistake of forgetting to ask the couple if there are any special songs they want in the wedding video, and having to ask them post-wedding. Awkward.
  • Editing is work. Videography doesn't always feel like work, but editing is just plain labor. However, editing is the rewarding part.
  • If something is too good to be true, I've probably done something wrong and will have to go back and put in another hour of work to fix it.
This is me coming off a day's worth of editing to make the above "highlights" film. I'll finish putting together the hour long ceremony video this week in my (ha) spare time. I currently have three camera's worth and about five hours of footage to look through. But I'm not complaining.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Shearer Girls Discuss | The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Look at this poster upside down
and it will blow your mind.
Spider-Man was the first comic book hero I ever read about. The Sunday paper had a limited edition print run of the original Spider-Man comics, so that's what we read every Sunday afternoon. It was the beginning of my introduction to the superheroic world of comics (and probably the most basic reason I prefer Marvel heroes to those from DC.)

Spider-Man is just an awesome character. So many terrible things happen to him, but he always chooses to do the right thing, selflessly. He fights crime because he knows its the right thing to do, not for revenge or fame or glory.

Wealth and fame he's ignored; action is his reward.

I enjoyed the Sam Raimi adaptations a lot because he got so many things about the character right. Also, Sam Raimi's movies were just a lot of fun, very lighthearted and "comic booky," but deep when they needed to be. They were excellent adaptations of the original comics.

So when they decided to reboot the character I was... kind of mad. They'd already made three perfectly good movies. The only reason to reboot it at that point was for two reasons: to retain the rights, and therefore to profit off the character.

It was no longer about Spider-Man as a character; it was about Spider-Man as an asset, as a good to sell to movie consumers. At that point it just felt like Sony was simply using the character's popularity in an attempt to make more money.

Fast forward to today. In anticipation of the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man 2 I decided to write, shoot, & post a video review of the first Amazing Spider-Man movie. The only way to adequately express my supreme disappointment with that movie was by writing a snarky and humorous review using skits and wigs and lots of cool sound effects. My awesome sisters were my co-reviewers and actors.

Here is Part 1, covering Peter Parker's gang activity and Uncle Ben's death.

Part 2, covering everything from Stan Lee, Rodrigo, and J. Jonah Jameson to promises, cameos, and ending scenes.

In case you're wondering, this weekend we went and saw Cap 2 (a highly superior movie, which I may review at a later date) in order to effectively boycott the release of TASM2. Just doing my part to discourage the continuation of a franchise that was so desperate to make money that it partnered with the United States Postal Service in order to promote the movie.

Seriously, Sony. Let it go. Let it go! Don't hold onto Spider-Man anymore.

Maguire never bothered me, anyway.

- your friendly neighborhood Spider-fan

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Review: The Book Thief

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that I'd heard a lot about and about which many people had strong feelings, so I was forced to read it so that I could have an opinion.

Now that I've read it I have an opinion, and that opinion is that Hans Hubermann is now on my list of the greatest characters in literature, especially since I used to know someone like him -- the kind, silver-eyed old man, with the mischievous wink and smile and the sparkling eyes. I don't care that Death likes Rudy the best. Hans Hubermann is my favorite.

I wrote a more professional, balanced review over on the Exodus website where I discuss all of this much further. Here are my thoughts at the beginning of that review and you can read the rest by clicking the link...
The Book Thief is not an average novel. Perhaps that's putting it lightly. The Book Thief is unconventional and different in a way that will either shove you out of the story or pull you head first into it. It has been both praised for being emotionally resonant and despised for being emotionally manipulative. Call it creative, call it pretentious, the truth is that Book Thief doesn't really care what you think. It freely uses or discards the rules of novel writing in order to achieve its own unique tone and style. Whether you love or hate that style is up to you. 
Our narrator is Death. The year is 1939. (Continue reading at Exodus Books.)
Basically, Book Thief fully merits the four stars I gave it. It was refreshing (and painful!) to read about WWII from the German side, especially to read about the Germans who were just caught up in the war, like everyone else.

I also saw the Book Thief movie and it was excellent (although there were a few parts I wished they had included, like Liesel's seeing Max in the parade). Geoffrey Rush was amazing as Hans Hubermann. The part where he sat at the kitchen table sobbing with Rosa was gut-wrenching.

So, yeah. I guess you could say I liked The Book Thief.

the girl who does not acquire books by thievery

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I Shot a (Steampunk?) Movie

Nicholas Fitzgerald and Princess Harriet rehearsing

This past week I have been busy. Among other things, my schedule has included frantic script rewrites, getting up at 5:30 in the morning, shooting with dying cameras, hiking through way too much mud, a terrible head cold, orange juice, top hats, dealing with editing programs, reading The Book Thief, taking Hogwarts sorting hat quizzes, and many other insignificant tasks that have no bearing on this post.

The significant part to pick up on is that I'm making a steampunk movie. Or at least a movie that is set in a vaguely steampunk world, but is not overtly steampunk due to the budget constraint of having no budget.

Right now I'm in the process of editing (painful) and trying to come up with a title for the thing (dreadful.) I'll write up a proper long post about the whole miserable process soon. Until then this is me sending up feeble smoke signals from the land of post-production.

In other news, the sorting hat quizzes keep splitting me between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor so I don't know for sure what I am. Or where I belong. What is truth?

—the irritable film editor with the head cold

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Harry Potter and the Series Review: The Epic Conclusion

So..... remember way back when I said I was going to write a review for every book in the Harry Potter series?

In my last post back in..... ahem, September I used my current job at a bookstore as an excuse for my lack of series review posts. Well, just recently my boss asked me to write – guess what – a review of the Harry Potter series for the website. Turns out I do a much better job of keeping up on that when I'm getting paid for it. (No brainer right?)

Now I'm just going to present you with the links to the website. You can read the reviews directly on the site (and drive the pageviews up!) Also don't miss the series overview (written by my co-worker). And maybe check out the rest of the website while you're there. It's a pretty cool place.

Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows

And so we come to the epic conclusion of my sad failed Harry Potter and the Series Review series. Happy reading, everyone! Let me know what you think.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Why the Aesir Can't Have Nice Things

Why the Aesir Can’t Have Nice Things
Or; The Death of Baldr Retold
By Lauren

The Aesir are the Norse gods. Like the Olympians, but more like the Norselympians.

OH NOES!! Baldr is doomed to die!!

But he can't die! He’s so beautiful! That’s why we call him: Baldr the Beautiful.

No! He must not die!

I will ask everything in the known universe to pretty please not kill Baldr.


FRIGGA: (waves hand and makes sparkly noises)
Poof! You are now protected forever and ever!!!

Much protect.
Very not die.

Let us throweth things at Baldr to see if they hurt him!!!!



LOKI:  (sidles up)
Heeeey, FRIGGA, what up sweetheart?

Oh, not much, just trying to kill Baldr, you know how it is.

SOOO you know, there's nothing you could have forgotten to ask not to kill Baldr, you know, like, some sort of plant or weapon or anything?

Well, I was like, going to include mistletoe but then I was like, you know, too much work, ya know? So yeah, mistletoe will totally kill him but who would even think of that, right? Hahahaha.

Cool story bro.


Very spear.
Much safe.

Heeeeeey blind brother of Baldr named Hoor! What’s up? Hey, all these people trying to kill your brother. Wanna join in the fun? Take this bow that’s totally not loaded with a mistletoe arrow. Hehehe...

Umm okay. Why would mistletoe be a problem -

Hey, let’s shoot the arrow now!!!


Much die!
Very pain.
So dead.




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